Holiday cheer, reflections and well wishes

Christmas+Banner+With+English+Calligraphy+Happy+Holidays.+Fir+Tree+Branch+With+Blue+Balls+And+Christmas+Decoration.+White+Wooden+Rustic+Background+And+Fairy+Lights

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Christmas Banner With English Calligraphy Happy Holidays. Fir Tree Branch With Blue Balls And Christmas Decoration. White Wooden Rustic Background And Fairy Lights

Jess Oakley, Reporter

Sometimes, in the bustle of everything to do with Halloween, followed by Thanksgiving, followed by Christmas and then followed up with New Years, I forget that these holidays aren’t always the same in every country, let alone every household. With the end of the year approaching and colleges letting students go after finals, people will be going home to celebrate the end of the year with the people they love the most. 

My family is tiny, just me, my sisters, mother, grandma and the light of my life, my nephew. For Thanksgiving we just have some food at my mom’s house, eating the leftovers for the remainder of the month. Our Christmas is even less orthodox. We usually either eat lasagna or taco squares, which are a kind of taco version of lasagna. We eat breakfast together on Christmas Day, and we open gifts together. It’s not a huge affair, usually just a few gifts among us all and the most presents for my nephew. This year I got him some turtlenecks, so he could match with me and a keychain for his backpack. 

My girlfriend, on the other hand, has a huge family. Holiday celebrations in their family is a big ordeal. All day spent with aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. I’d never really experienced anything like this before, as my family has always just been small. Lee tells me of sharing stories, making music videos in the basement with younger cousins, taking naps all together in the living room, watching movies and just basking in the way it feels to be around family. 

And our families only live an hour apart, can you imagine how different celebrations are in other countries? My friend Daniel, who lives in Sweden told me that his family, and many other Swedes, spend the holidays watching Donald Duck comics. In Japan, the common Christmas cuisine is fried chicken from KFC and a sweet cake. In Germany, night markets light up the streets as people drink mulled wine and wander through the lights.

One thing is obvious though, through all of the different traditions of celebrating the end of the year. There is a sense of closeness that seems to permeate the air. At the end of the year, when we can reflect back on the things that happened throughout our life, we are reminded that nothing is permanent. While the changing of one year to the next can be bittersweet, and maybe especially so this year, we must not forget that as time goes on we are given every chance to change the bad habits and continue to become better people. 

And isn’t that what the end of the year is about? If we forgot the presents, the food, even the family gatherings. If we stripped the last few weeks of the year down to its barest form, it’s all about change and growth. When this year ends, and we can finally start the next one, I want you, my dear reader, to think of this fact. That when the sun rises over the new year, it means you survived. It means that you made it through another year. 

I hope you can all see the brighter things in the fresh days after the beginning of a new year. I hope you can appreciate the love you have in your heart. I hope you can forgive yourself and others for anything that you may be holding onto. I hope you can grow as a person. Above all, I hope that you can all learn to unconditionally love yourselves. That is my wish for all of you, and myself as well.

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